With summer officially in the rear-view and the collective feeling of ‘getting back into the swing of things’ taking shape, fall provides the perfect setting to get all your affairs in order on your home front.
Between double-checking that your life insurance beneficiaries are updated to ensuring your child still can qualify for health coverage under your plan — here is a snapshot of the most important areas that need your attention this fall.
Let us preface this by mentioning that when dealing with any of these major life changes, it must be reported within 30 days of anything happening.
Why out-of-date beneficiary designations is a costly oversight
Updating the ownership and beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies following a change in marital status is a very important but sometimes overlooked area.
It is so important that after marriages, divorces, births, deaths and other major life events, account-holders need to check and, if necessary, update beneficiary statements.
“Whatever your beneficiary statement says trumps your estate plan – it is the go-to document used to distribute assets.”
Neither separation or divorce will revoke a beneficiary designation, so in order to ensure that life insurance proceeds will reach your intended beneficiaries, you have to specifically change the beneficiary designation on a life insurance policy.
Since life insurance policies are instruments used to secure an ongoing financial obligation to provide support and security for a former spouse and children, it is vital that the language specifically reflects this. And the terms of a separation or divorce agreement should address how the insurance policy is to be owned, maintained and designated moving forward.
Out of date beneficiary designation are a painstakingly costly experience, so remember to update your beneficiary forms to ensure your assets go to the right person.
Don’t forget coverage for over-age student dependents
A child who is attending college or university as a full-time student is still considered an Eligible Dependent. As long as they are unmarried, over the age of 21 but under the age of 25 and is entirely dependent on you for financial support, they can be part of your group benefits plan.
Ensuring that your child is still covered under your group insurance benefits is an easy process. You can do this by letting your benefits administrator know once your dependent qualifies as an over-age student. Then moving forward, whenever you submit a claim, you just need to confirm that your dependent is a full-time student. It’s an overlooked and sometimes forgotten blind spot that can save you money.
What to do if you’re getting remarried
Updating life insurance beneficiaries (or even just securing new insurance) is one of the most important things you can do when you get remarried. By its very nature, a second marriage might come with new financial goals, obligations, children, school expenses, and life insurance can help fill the gaps in these areas while protecting you and your spouse.
Getting remarried is an excellent time to check-in on your current life insurance coverage and fill in any gaps you might have with a new life insurance policy.
What about when you move in with a partner?
If you move in with a partner, and you are not married, there are some insurance implications that you need to be aware of between renter’s, homeowners and liability insurance.
First off, you will need your own renter’s insurance policy with the right coverage in order to cover all your property and the belongings inside; you don’t automatically get added to your partner’s policy. The same goes for moving in with a friend or a roommate — you need to get your own coverage.
And if you are moving in with a partner that owns the home, [and you are not married], you will still need to get your own renter’s insurance and liability coverage to protect you if anyone gets hurt on your property, as well as protecting your belongings should a fire or flood cause any damage.
Now what about for common-law?
This is where there are some grey areas. Some insurance companies insist that people be together for at least a year to be considered under the common law bracket, while other insurance companies allow the employer to specify how long a couple has to be living together in order to be eligible for benefits; meaning the coverage could start as soon as the day that they move in together.
Common-Law partnership is still a very complicated area, and its meaning varies greatly across Canada. In the common law provinces, a separation or divorce does not automatically revoke a beneficiary designation in favour of a former spouse unless the designation is made by a declaration in a will.
While some of these aren’t mandatory to hold, staying up to date and on top of your records that provide excruciatingly necessary protection down the road is really worth the investment of your time.